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Kansas City Star | 04/21/2006 | Bill prompts FBI to look for unsolved crimes
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
FBI offices across the country are searching for unsolved civil rights-era murders in anticipation that a cold case unit will be established within the Justice Department.
When Congress resumes next week, Sen. Jim Talent, a Missouri Republican, plans to reintroduce a bill to create and fund the unit, Talent spokesman Rich Chrismer said Thursday.
Talent, along with Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, introduced the measure last year. The Senate approved it, but it was stripped out of a House appropriations bill.
The bill prompted it (the search for cold cases), so that we would be ready to go,said Jeff Lanza, an FBI spokesman in Kansas City.
All 56 of the FBI�s field offices have been ordered to explore possible cases and report to FBI headquarters by May 1, Lanza said.
The Kansas City office has not yet identified any cases, Lanza said. The FBI is examining cases dating to before 1970.
Alvin Sykes, an area civil rights advocate, suggested the unit to Talent. On Thursday, Sykes applauded word of the FBI�s work.
"This is wonderful," Sykes said. "Just to believe that our government is finally in a proactive mode."
Sykes was instrumental in getting a joint federal and state investigation started in one of the nation's most famous civil rights-era murders, that of Emmett Till. Till was a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago who was murdered in 1955 in Mississippi after whistling at a white woman."Continued